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Fuelling our Ferocious Warmth


Collaborative Competition - head and heart

Gamify, have fun, as well as get to the goal! 

As part of my mentor role at Thought Leaders Business School, I get to mentor an amazing bunch of smart people who help organisations and individuals to navigate the complexity of the world. This group of people are incredibly supportive of each other and even though they work individually in their own businesses, their growth is helped considerably by the collaborative way they set goals, discuss challenges and cheer each other on to achieve them. One of our crew sets their goals at the start of the week in our communication platform, then reports in on Friday. Not because they have to, but because they know that the commitment of stating the goals out loud to us is the push they need to keep themselves accountable.


Comparison being a real killer for our mojo, we have to be careful of using competition in a way that motivates, not deflates. One of our main goals is to get our thoughts out of our heads and onto a page, so every so often, the group will set a '500 words a day' goal. Anyone can opt in if it works for them. The way we make it fun evolved naturally from one of the group, who started posting celebration GIFs after he had hit 500 words. Now, the WhatsApp chat gets hit with crazy GIFs. The competition is never about whether the words were written, or the quality - in fact we don't even see them. The competition is who can find the craziest GIF possible to post in the chat - not the words. We've gamified the accountability quest, with the work being a stepping stone to celebrating with a silly image.

Sound weird? The whole gif thing has become an important part of our group's fabric, a ritual if you like, that not only has humour, but binds us to an internal and external accountability on the joint journey we are on. Dr Jason Fox, Motivation Scientist and author of The Game Changer and How to Lead a Quest says 'Rituals are even more critical at the team level. Rituals are the stitching that connects people to progress. They are the thread that binds a team together in purpose, and they thrive on real connection.'

Competition between team members that has a negative comparison edge can create an individual, 'I' environment in a team. In toxic cultures, ego, envy and even sabotage can run rampant. Dr Carol Dweck, author of 'Mindset - The New Psychology of Success' says that this is the realm of the fixed mindset. Always having to prove your competence, and that you are smarter, talented, funnier than those around you. Exhausting! High performing collaborative cultures celebrate each other's wins, and see the alignment to the bigger picture of the team's goals and aspirations.

What rituals and gamification - whether planned or organically grown do you have going on in your teams and organisations? How can you put the competition into how you celebrate a goal met, rather than who did the better job?

Now I'm off to write 500 words - I've got a great GIF ready to celebrate!